The role of the consultant in the data center infrastructure space is seeing some considerable shifts lately. Five years ago, consultants were still fairly specialized in certain disciplines like server, storage and network. Now, as technology has continued to converge across the compute, storage, network and virtualization platforms, the roles of consultants have become increasingly complex. Converged infrastructure solutions like FlexPod, Vblock, SmartStack, Nutanix, and Simplivity – to name a few – have done a great job of reducing the time to market. They have also overcome the challenges of costly, rigid silo architectures that were historically a struggle for many organizations.
The converged technology stack makes it important for consultants to be well versed in all areas of data center infrastructure. With increasingly tighter integrations, the days of isolating a conversation to storage or network performance are over. Consultants need to speak to all aspects and integration points within a data center and its cloud extensions, if any.
I have had the privilege over the years to work with some extremely bright and talented people. I remember many meetings in the past where I would watch a consultant speaking with a client about a solution and marvel at the technical depth and knowledge. However, with the rapid changes and consolidation in the recent years, I have noticed that consultants are facing difficult challenges as they attempt to provide the depth in knowledge required across the entire converged technology stack.
Further, the conversations around converged and hyper-converged infrastructure discussions go hand-in-hand with cloud architecture considerations. The cloud is a growing area that adds one more layer of complexity. Not only do consultants need to understand the converged technologies in depth, but they also need to understand the integration points within the cloud.
What knowledge areas have consultants had to adopt quickly?
- Cloud service provider knowledge. Survey of the many providers, small and large, across such a broad network of cloud providers – a huge learning curve.
- Security. Legal, compliance and other considerations related to the secure storage of information in the cloud – varies with industries.
- Private vs. public. Knowledge on advantages of both the private cloud solutions and hyperscale providers – supportability is key.
- Application focus. Understanding application delivery for each use case through hosted, cloud/IaaS or SaaS providers – integration is a “must have.”
Consultants have to be the Swiss Army Knife of technology across multiple disciplines while maintaining the depth of knowledge across a broad spectrum of technologies, and with that comes constant challenges to stay current and relevant in the role.